Upcoming meetings:
The November Sustainability Commission meeting will take place online on Monday November 9th, 2020 starting at 5 pm. Senate Bill 1383, regarding organic waste reduction in our landfills, will be one of the topics of discussion. To view the agenda, watch the meeting live, or submit an electronic comment, please visit: www.chulavistaca.gov/boards and see the Sustainability Commission under Teleconference Meetings, which will have updated information a few days before the meeting.
Sustainable Communities Webinar Series 

The City of Chula Vista Office of Sustainability is offering a series of webinars for the community about building codes related to CALGreen, insulation installation, ventilation and incentives. These webinars are held from 12:00 to 1:00 pm – perfect for a lunch and learn session! You are invited to register at the link below, as well as to watch the past webinars if you have missed them as all webinars will be recorded and posted to the website:
  • November 17 CALGreen Non-Residential Code
Virtual Back Yard Composting

The Covid-19 virus has forced the City to cancel many of its planned community events. Unfortunately, the spring 2020 Master Composter Training Course was one of these halted events. Since the last completed course in October 2019, the Office of Sustainability has received numerous registration requests for the next training course and felt a sense of urgency to provide a workable option for the composting community.

Normally the Master Composter Training is a very interactive course. The challenge was to meet the community demand with a new virtual version of the course that includes modified “hands-on” segments for the students. Using a method of both regular and interactive videos developed in partnership with the Living Coast Discovery Center, a “Virtual Master Composter Course” was established.

There is no doubt that there will be some hurdles with this virtual format and staff will continue to make modifications as needed. However, rest assured that the quality of the training will continue to be topnotch and include all the latest improvements to the virtual experience.

Plans are already underway for next Spring’s virtual Master Composter Training course in April 2021. For more information or to register, click here or visit the City’s CLEAN page.
New Sustainable Home Toolkits Available to Help Residents Save Energy, Water, and Money and Reduce Waste

The City of Chula Vista has launched the Sustainable Home Toolkit that provides Chula Vista residents with tools and equipment to improve the sustainability of their home or small business. The Sustainable Home Toolkit is free to check out at Chula Vista Civic Center and Otay Ranch Libraries and can help you save money, cut your energy and water use and reduce your waste and carbon footprint. The Sustainable Home Toolkit supports Chula Vista’s Climate Action Plan and allows you to complete some of the sustainable actions for the Chula Vista Climate Action Challenge

The toolkit contains supplies, giveaway items that can be kept (such as LED light bulbs or low-flow shower heads), measuring devices and a guide with step-by-step instructions to help you lower your utility bills while saving precious resources. With the toolkit, users can easily install giveaway items including LED bulbs, low-flow showerheads, weather-stripping, low-flow faucet aerators, outlet gaskets and more. For more information on how to use items, what can be keep and what needs to be returned or to view the guidebook, please visit: www.chulavistaca.gov/departments/clean/home-toolkit

The toolkit is available to check out at the Civic Center Branch and Otay Ranch Branch Libraries. Reserve your toolkit online at www.chulavistalibrary.com or by calling 619-691-5069, pressing 9, then press 1 to make an appointment to pick one up. It’s easy as checking out a library book!
Organic Waste in Our Landfills - We’re wasting a resource that prevents climate change, can power our homes and save food to feed the hungry. 

During this pandemic people have lost their jobs and some the ability to feed themselves and their families yet wasting food continues. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 40.7 million tons of food waste was generated in 2017 and out of this only 2.6 million tons was composted in this same year. 1 While a large percentage of this edible food is wasted at the production level, food is also wasted in most American homes. But we can do a lot to prevent food and other organic waste from ending in our trash. When organic waste ends up in landfills it creates harmful methane which is a powerful greenhouse gas. Landfills emit the majority of man-made methane emissions in California and are one of the top emitters in the United States2.

Here’s what we can do to prevent wasting food; shop wisely, do not over-buy food and if you do have food “about to go” in the fridge, try to preserve by freezing, canning, making stews and other techniques that will stop you from tossing food in trash. Learn about “best by” dates and other recommendations for food. Some of these are confusing but there are great websites that can help you dispel any myths, the USDA and Consumer Reports have great data on their websites specific to the type of food you have, sometimes your nose is the best one to tell you but it is worth seeing other recommendations.

Gleaning is also a great concept for some of us with a healthy garden that produces more than we can consume. There are great volunteer groups that can go to your yard and garden and pick your bounty to then donate to food rescue organizations like food banks and distribution sites at community centers and faith-based organizations. These gleaner groups harvest from your yards in a responsible way and will even provide a liability waiver and donation receipts for your taxes. Depending on where you live there is a nearby gleaner volunteer group, a simple search on the internet will come up with great options, just make sure that the group lists in their website that they are an official non-profit organization.

Also, very important to note is that keeping organic waste out of your trash will be the norm for all in the “sunshine state”. As a requirement brought on by 2016’s California Senate Bill 1383, by 2022, all cities and counties must make arrange for organic waste collection for all homes and most businesses. This means that you will no longer be allowed to place your organic waste or food waste in your trash and will be required to place it in a separate container for disposal. Think of the 1980’s when recycling collection came to your neighborhood. In this case you will, now must keep that moldy bread, wilted salad, spoiled cheese and even food-soiled paper out of the trash just like you did with soda cans, glass bottles, magazines and cardboard boxes. Some cities and counties are already planning for this. In Chula Vista the plan is for you to place food waste in your yard/garden waste carts and equally important will be to keep plastics and other contaminants out. Food waste and other organics disposal will require us all to be much more careful and keep all plastic bags, wrapping, plastic containers and other non-organic stuff to be kept out of organic waste collection carts and bins.
So, what will happen to all the collected organic waste once it is hauled away? Organic waste can be composted in mass at regional facilities to be used by the very same food growers that produce your fruit and veggies. Compost can also be used at local parks and recreation areas for healthier soils, fields and open spaces and help retain moisture, thus saving on water use.
Organic waste can also be turned into gas by anaerobic digestion that can create electricity, fuel vehicles or be pumped into our pipes for use at homes. Therefore, this is a great resource that needs to stay out of our landfills to prevent the creation of harmful methane, which accounts for 20% of all greenhouse gas generation in our state2.

This resource can power trash collection trucks, run wastewater treatment plants or warm up the left-over soup you made to avoid throwing away soft tomatoes in your fridge. We (the City of Chula Vista) will soon notify you of changes coming to your waste and recycling programs, and yes unfortunately the new program will slightly increase your monthly fee but this program is for the benefit of all and in no time it will be the norm just like recycling is now.  
  1. www.EPA.gov Food: Material-Specific Data | Facts and figures about material report
  2. www.calrecycle.gov/climate/organics
New CLEAN Business – The Learning Choice Academy

The City of Chula Vista welcomes its newest CLEAN Business, The Learning Choice Academy, a free TK-12 public charter homeschool located in Eastlake. The school was established in 2004 with 30 students and has grown to a staff of 33 teachers and administrators with approximately 410 students. It also has a preschool and is administered under the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

As a CLEAN Business, the school has many features that save energy and water. The school has also taken advantage of the City’s free recycling bin program to enhance their recycling efforts. LED lights have been installed in classrooms and in common areas. Occupancy sensors turn off the lights when no people are present. Water-saving faucets and low-flow toilets are in place. The school purchases recycled products, especially paper for use in copy machines and printers. Recycling bins are present in each classroom and in office areas. The school staff advocates recycling and regularly provides tips to students.

The school functions as a public hybrid homeschool, students would come to the school two days a week (prior to the pandemic) and are homeschooled the remainder of the week. When at the school, students attend classes that parents may not have the ability and knowledge to teach. For high schoolers, this would be as chemistry and higher-level math. During the trying times with the pandemic, time normally spent in the classroom at school is now conducted via virtual online learning where students log in to their virtual classrooms. Depending on students’ needs private and group tutoring is also conducted. Parents are instrumental in providing guidance for their students and helping with instruction and homework. Every six weeks, virtual parent conferences are held with teachers, parents and students.

For more information on The Learning Choice Academy visit www.learningchoice.org or call the school at 619-656-4220.
Draft National Recycling Strategy and Executive Summary - Input Needed

The draft National Recycling Strategy identifies strategic objectives and actions needed to create a stronger, more resilient, and cost-effective U.S. municipal solid waste recycling system. Recycling has been a critical component of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decades-long efforts to implement the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and its more recent efforts to pursue a Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) approach, which aims to reduce the environmental impacts of materials across their lifecycle. Building on the National Framework for Advancing the U.S. Recycling System and EPA’s long history of providing data, tools, information and other resources to support recycling in the United States, the draft strategy identifies strategic objectives and actions needed to create a stronger, more resilient, and cost-effective U.S. municipal solid waste recycling system.

The strategy, when finalized, will be aligned with and support implementation of the national recycling goals, which EPA intends to announce in November 2020.

Key questions to consider when reviewing and commenting on the draft strategy include:
  • Of the proposed actions, which are the most important and would have the greatest positive impact at the local, regional and national level?
  • What are the key implementation steps and milestones necessary to successfully implement these actions?
  • Is your organization willing to lead an action? Or collaborate with others to implement the actions? What factors would your organization take into account when considering whether to lead an action?
  • What are the most important roles and/or actions for federal agencies to lead?
  • Are there other actions that should be included in the strategy?
  • Do you have additional information or recommendations to inform the development of the strategy?